Brodehl cruises to victory in commissioner race

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Randy Brodehl, right, jokes with Dr. Albert Olszewski at an election watch party at Scotty’s Bar in Kalispell on Tuesday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Republican Randy Brodehl, a longtime Flathead County resident and public servant, claimed an easy victory during Tuesday’s election for District 3 Flathead County commissioner seat.

Brodehl beat Democratic hopeful Tom Clark, with roughly 65 percent of the vote tally at 1 a.m.

“It was a very tough race and we worked for 11 months straight doing everything we possibly could,” Brodehl said.

Brodehl, 64, replaces outgoing Republican Commissioner Gary Krueger, who lost his bid for a second six-year term in the June primary election.

Brodehl will launch into his new position backed by a wealth of political experience and lengthy track record of community involvement.

From 2011 to 2017, he served as a representative for House District 9 in Evergreen and Northeast Kalispell and was the vice chairman for the House Appropriations Committee. Prior to politics, Brodehl was a volunteer and career firefighter for nearly four decades, eventually retiring as fire chief of the Kalispell Fire Department.

He is a business owner and a family man, but still, Brodehl never felt 100 percent confident he would win the seat.

“During the race, every day we thought there’s a possibility we may not pull through, but the team always stayed engaged and energized,” Brodehl said.

Throughout his campaign, he consistently reaffirmed his stance as a conservative, which he said will continue to guide his decisions once he steps into the commissioner position, where he hopes to start by simply “keeping bad things from happening.”

Brodehl focused most of his campaign on addressing three main issues: county budget, public safety and private property rights. Brodehl believes his background in public service and politics makes him highly qualified for the position.

During those years, Brodehl juggled financial responsibilities as the fire chief and as a state representative. He also fought to limit property regulations during his time as a representative for House District 9.

Brodehl’s Democratic opponent, Tom Clark, focused heavily on the Flathead’s need to rekindle city and county relationships and protect water resources and the environment, stating in a press release earlier this year, “we must look beyond the false choice of ‘jobs versus the environment.’”

Clark was outspoken against Montana Artesian Water Co.’s controversial commercial bottling plant near Creston — one of a handful of environmental issues that shaped his campaign. On his website, Clark said he had planned to “restore transparency, accessibility, responsibility and accountability” to the county commissioner position.

Clark estimated he was outspent four-to-one by Brodehl this election cycle. But he said unwavering support from the community made up for what he lacked in funding.

“People went around knocking on doors and made hundreds of calls,” Clark said. “The amount of support has been tremendous. They (Republicans) may have the money, but we have the people.”

Reporter Kia Gardner may be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com.

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